I am honored to be able to participate alongside my fellow plus size bloggers in #BloggersForBlackLives. Today, more than ever, I feel like we need the reminder. Founded by Seyi of In Fashion We Trust, #BloggersForBlackLives was created to stand in solidarity with the black men and women gunned down by police officers. And as Seyi writes, "just because you’re not the one being bullied at school, does not mean you can not stand up to the bully."
I remember the first time that I personally became aware of the systematic racism rampant in the police force. I was living in Chicago and my boyfriend at the time called to tell me that he had just been jumped outside a bar in the newly gentrified neighborhood where he lived. I remember the way his voice shook when he told me what happened.
He was outside the bar when five white men jumped him. My boyfriend, a shorter black man, was half the size of most of his attackers but he managed to fight them off until the police finally arrived. When they arrived, his attackers claimed it was my boyfriend who had attacked them and that the bookbag they were fighting over was one of theirs despite it containing all of my boyfriend's belongings including his ID. My boyfriend told me that he could tell that the cops, both men of color, knew what had really happened but they told him all they could do was drive him home.
The implication was that no one would believe my boyfriend wasn't the attacker simply because he was black and they were white. Size didn't matter. The numbers didn't matter. The context of the situation didn't matter (his belongs in the backbag). The number of witnesses outside the bar didn't matter. All that mattered was the color of my boyfriend's skin.
I remember my outrage when he first told me. I wanted to call the bar and find out who the witnesses were who didn't talk. I wanted to demand the tattoo shop across the street give their surveillance footage. I felt angry. I couldn't understand how this was fair. I see now that it was my own privilege that didn't allow me to see how this could happen; how this continues to happen to black men and women in cities like Chicago everyday; how this could've even been a lot worse for my boyfriend; that the police driving him home was actually a still unjust favor.
For two weeks, my boyfriend was afraid to go home. He stayed with me and every night he cried. I felt helpless. In a lot of ways, I still feel helpless every time another name becomes a hashtag and another life is lost at the hands of a broken system. The documentary 13th does a great job explaining how this system operates.
As a fashion blogger, I believe that fashion can be political. I believe that every time I put something on my fat body and choose not to hide that I am standing up to a society that would rather I didn't exist. And I believe that where we shop can be a political action as well.
My friend and fellow blogger Emerald Shaw started a page called Black Economic Upheaval on Facebook designed to help folks locate black-owned businesses. On the importance of shopping with black-owned businesses, Emerald tells me, "Coupled with establishing black owned businesses, supporting those businesses puts us on the path of dismantling a lot of the multiple components of racism. Buying black challenges the narrative that black people cannot be supportive of one another, it leads to a healthier relationship with black and non-black consumers and professionals, and it works to threaten the very fuel of racism: capitalism."
Inspired by Emerald, I created a Black Owned Business tag for my blog posts which will make it easier to find products I'm wearing in my posts that are from black-owned businesses. I am going to make a more continued and conscious effort to support these businesses and to share when I do. I am also going to create a black-owned business gift guide for the holidays and would love to hear your suggestions in the comments below or on Twitter (@readytostare) of businesses that I need to include.
As for my "Actions Speak Louder Than Shirts" tee in this post, it's from Enstrumental (who I also wore for my Opposites Attract post earlier this year). The design of the tee spoke to me but it was the description of the tee that drove this message home for me:
"There needs to be a harnessing of righteous anger against injustice, moving beyond periodic anger and episodic engagement, and involving ourselves and others deeply in the ongoing struggle to build good community and the world we all want and deserve to live in. I mean, posting is safe. To ACT takes courage and abandonment of comfort. We can keep posting, but please know that history will look back on this New Age 'revolution' a temporary, fleeting, and conditional."
With that, I encourage you all to do what you can to act and show that you stand with #BlackLivesMatter. Make sure you check out my fellow bloggers posts too! Thorton Paul, Gentlemen's Curb, Phat Girl Fresh, Plus Size Beausion, N.E.C. STYLE, & Beauty Beyond My Curves
"Actions Speak Louder Than Shirts", Enstrumental
Black Disco Leggings, c/o Addictions Luxe
Black Quilted Bomber, CitiTrends (similar)
Fur Canteen Shoulder Bag, Ashley Stewart
Isabel Clear Cylinder Heel Ankle Boot, Boohoo
Please let me know more black-owned businesses to support in the comments below!